Dr. Paul Fussell, Jr., Donald T. Regan Professor Emeritus of English in the School of Arts & Sciences, passed away May 23 in Oregon; he was 88.
He taught English at Connecticut College for Women, 1951-55, and at Rutgers University, 1976-83, before joining the Penn faculty in 1983. He was awarded a Guggenheim and a Lindback while at Rutgers. Dr. Fussell became an emeritus professor at Penn in 1994.
Born and raised in Pasadena, California, he attended Pasadena Junior College and Pomona College before serving in World War II, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. After the war he earned a BA from Pomona College in 1947 and later received both his master’s and doctoral degrees in 18th-century English literature from Harvard University in 1949 and 1952, respectively.
He authored several books including, The Great War and Modern Memory, about the myths of World War I and the war’s impact on literature, which won the National Book Award in 1976 and the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award in Criticism in 1975; Modern Library publishing house named it one of the 20th century’s best nonfiction books. That book, which drew on his experience as a first lieutenant in the infantry during WWII, changed the course of his career. His 1980 book, Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars, was a finalist for the NBCC.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Fussell had been a consulting editor for Random House and a contributing editor to The New Republic and Harper’s. He then appeared in Ken Burns’ 2007 documentary, The War.
Dr. Fussell is survived by his second wife, Harriet Behringer-Fussell; his children, Rosalind and Sam; his sister, Florence Fussell-Lind; four stepchildren, Cole, Roclin, Marcy and Liese Behringer, 10 step-grandchildren and six step great-grandchildren.